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     Lookofsky, Harry (1st October 1913-8th June 1998)

    He was a violinist and arranger born in Paducah, Kentucky who began playing when he was 8 years old and studied the violin in St. Louis, Missouri.

     

    When he was a teenager he performed in a jazz orchestra on the Southern Vaudeville Circuit and in 1933 he became a member of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra but also retained his interest in the jazz violin, citing his influence as Joe Venuti.  So much so that he became acclaimed as one of the pioneers of the bebop style of playing and later was credited as an innovator of an “improvisationary language that never existed” and called an “unsung genius of 20th century music”.

     

    In 1938 he left the SLSO and joined up with the NBC Symphony Orchestra under the leadership of Arturo Toscanini and in 1954, after Toscanini went into retirement, he joined ABC’s orchestra as their concertmaster.

     

    During his time with these orchestras he also became a crossover artist and performed as a jazz musician on stage and in the studio.  In 1955 he recorded his first album, Miracle With Strings, on the Epic Columbia label and then in 1958 he recorded his album Stringsville which brought him recognition for his bebop style of playing.

     

    After he left his orchestral career he continued performing symphonic and jazz styles and spent much of the latter period of his career playing jingles for television.  He passed away from prostate cancer in 1998 when he was 85 years old.

     

    The recognition he received for his work found him performing with and/or collaborating with many other artists who include Patti Austin, Luiz Bonfa, Tom Browne, Change, Stanley Clarke, Hank Crawford, Gil Evans, Clare Fischer, Deodato, Jackie DeShannon, Carol Douglas, Fania All-Stars, Maynard Ferguson, Eric Gale, Emanuel Green, Hampton String Quartet, Coleman Hawkins, Rupert Holmes, Lena Horne, Freddie Hubbard, Milt Jackson, The Left Banke, Herbie Mann, David Matthews, Meco, Bette Midler, Van McCoy, Wes Montgomery, David “Fathead” Newman, Claus Ogerman, Gene Orloff, Jaco Pastorius, Esther Phillips, Reparata, Mongo Santamaria, Lalo Schifrin, Diane Schuur, George Shearing, Slave, Grace Slick, David Spinozza, Sylvia Syms, Joe Thomas, Kai Winding and Leo Wright among countless others.

     

    As you can imagine, his album repertoire is huge with just a few of them including What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong, Coffy by Roy Ayers, Caliente! By Gato Barbieri, Who Can I Turn To by Tony Bennett, In Your Eyes by George Benson, Don’t Stop the Music by The Brecker Brothers, Reality by James Brown, Standards by Ray Charles, Man Who Invented Soul by Sam Cooke, Everything Must Change by Randy Crawford, Chapter Two by Roberta Flack, Reflections by Stan Getz, So & So: Mukai Meets Gilberto by Astrud Gilberto, Extension of a Man by Donny Hathaway, Aftertones by Janis Ian, Inside You/Real Deal by The Isley Brothers, Wave by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Smackwater Jack by Quincy Jones, Get Loose by Evelyn King, Morning Star by Hubert Laws, Homeless Brother by Don McLean, Motown Solo Albums by David Ruffin, Oh Carol: The Complete Recordings 1956-1966 by Neil Sedaka, Marlena by Marlena Shaw, Coming Around Again by Carly Simon, Baltimore by Nina Simone, L.A. is My Lady by Frank Sinatra, Morning Dance by Spyro Gira, Sarah Vaughn sings the Mancini Songbook by Sarah Vaughn and All the King’s Horses by Grover Washington Jr. and also the soundtracks of Baker’s Wife, The Color Purple and The Wiz.

     

    His son is the keyboard player and songwriter Michael Brown who is a member of The Left Banke.

     

    Van McCoy recordings

    That’s the Joint (Van McCoy)

    The Shuffle (Van McCoy)

     

    Spyro Gira recordings

    Morning Dance (Jay Beckenstein)

     

    Sources:

    1. http://www.jonroseweb.com/c_articles_stringsville.html
    2. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:3nfyxqe5ldde
    3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Lookofsky
    4. http://www.answers.com/topic/harry-lookofsky-jazz-artist-30s-90s
    5. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,866354,00.html
    6. http://www.discogs.com/artist/Harry+Lookofsky
    7. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:3nfyxqe5ldde~T4
    8. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:3nfyxqe5ldde~2~T40B
    9. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:3nfyxqe5ldde~3~T40B
    10. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:3nfyxqe5ldde~4~T40B
    11. http://dance70countdown.blogspot.com/2008/09/van-mccoy-rhythms-of-world-1976.html

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     



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